Nato says it is ready to “defend” allies after Russian jets violated Turkish airspace whilst conducting air strikes in Syria.
Speaking before a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that Nato was “ready and able to defend all allies, including Turkey against any threats.”
“Nato has already responded by increasing our capacity, our ability, our preparedness to deploy forces including to the south, including in Turkey,” he said, noting that Russia’s air and cruise missile strikes were “reasons for concern”.
Officials at Nato are concerned about Russia’s weekend incursions into Turkey’s airspace near northern Syria.
As Russian and US planes fly missions over the same country for first time since World War Two, Nato is keen to avoid any further escalation of a conflict that has already killed 250,000 people.
“There has to be a political solution, a transition,” Stoltenberg said.
Meanwhile, Britain is asking Moscow to use its influence to stop Syria President Bashar al-Assad to stop bombing civilians.
“Russia is making a very serious situation in Syria much more dangerous,” said Defence Minister Michael Fallon.
France and Britain, Nato’s two main European powers, are understood to be willing to see the alliance use its new 5,000-strong rapid reaction force beyond NATO borders, potentially helping stabilise post-conflict governments in Libya or Syria.